London Team Helps International Human Rights Group Overcome Complex Property Law Issue


London real estate associate Sharon Puaar, supervised by London real estate of counsel Andrew Denye, recently completed a complex transaction for pro bono client Equality Now that allowed the organization to keep its focus on human rights work despite a significant operational challenge.

Equality Now is an international human rights organization that works to promote and protect the rights of women and girls around the world, including in furtherance of the third Millennium Development Goal—part of eight international development goals that the United Nations member states and several international organizations have agreed to achieve by 2015—to promote gender equality and empower women.

The landlord of Equality Now's London offices informed the client that it sought early termination of the lease to gain vacant possession of the property from the client. There was no break clause in the lease and Equality Now would otherwise have been able to stay in its offices until June 2014.

Sharon and Andrew represented Equality Now in connection with negotiations to obtain a fair and generous compensation (a premium of £60,000) from the landlord to give up the lease early. They subsequently negotiated a new lease of office space in another London property. The deal structure enabled the charity to seamlessly relocate while continuing its human rights functions.

Following the close of the transaction, the client's London office director, Jacqueline Hunt, wrote a letter to London office leader Anne O’Neill, stating that Sharon "did a very thorough job both in clarifying the issues to us so we had confidence in our decisions and in fighting our corner in the fair but firm way we had wished to conduct our negotiations with the landlords from the beginning. Sharon took a very heavy load from us and because we had total faith she understood and was defending our interests, we were able to get on with the human rights work we were set up to do."

The matter was referred to the firm by our legal services organization partner Advocates for International Development.